Day 11: We’re Commissioned To Reach Out Together – By Showing Acceptance

Point to Ponder: God wants you to accept others just like Jesus accepted you
Verse to Remember: “Reach out to welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!” — Romans 15:7 (Msg)
Question to Consider: Who is the last person in your life that you would expect to become a Christian? How could your acceptance of them build a bridge to Christ?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 11 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community — as well as on the difference between a study and a devotional.

Today’s topic helped highlight, for me, the difference between a study and a devotional. When merely studying something, I typically just ask myself:
* Is that true?
* Do I believe it?

That is, I make use of an objective, analytical viewpoint. However, a devotional needs to be approach from a subjective position of humility, as reflected by asking:

* How is that true for me?
* How can I better live that out?

That is, I start with the presumption that the author has something relevant for me, and it is my job to find it and apply it to my life. The better the author, the easier it will be for me to find such an applicable truth; though conversely, sometimes it is the hardness of my heart, not any flaw in the writer, that makes it difficult to perceive a relevant lesson.

The reason I bring this up is that I have pretty much always agreed with Rick’s point in today’s devotional: that we are to accept people whose behavior we do not condone, i.e. “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” However, that agreement doesn’t mean I needn’t bother reading all of it; it may be the end of argument, but it is only the beginning of application.

For example, at one level I (intellectually) accept everyone in my circle of influence, including those I profoundly disagree with — Hindus, atheists, deists, homosexuals, criminals, etc. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if I really accept anyone into my heart. That is, acceptance is easy for me since it is so superficial.

By the same token, I often wonder how well I am really accepting myself — as manifested by the existence of this blog. Am I even willing to accept and forgive my own “messy lives, impure motives, and irritating attitudes?” Do I know that God accepts me like that, not my idealized vision of myself? Do I have any clue of what it means to truly accept others — anyone — the way God accepts me? Showing me attention, knowing my name, never rejecting.

Even — if I can say this without sounding heretical — allowing me to complete Him, by bringing Him joy and fulfilling His purpose on earth?

Prayer: God, I need your help. Forgive me for my pride, that has been satisfied by a surface acceptance, but in reality kept other people at arm’s length emotionally. Grant me the courage to truly embrace those who are different than me — or at least different from how I’d like to think I am. May they see pure, unfeigned love and acceptance flowing from me, as it flows from you. And in that acceptance, may they hunger to know You and Your wholeness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.